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King Snake. The
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"Much has been written about other members of the Lampropeltis getula species complex, and it is our intent to provide some information regarding this often overlooked subspecies. It is hoped that others will be able to contribute to this site with observations and data on the Black Kingsnake throughout its range and we intend to make continual contributions ourselves in the form of field observations and locality photographs. We feel the time has come to give the Black Kingsnake its due!
The California Mountain Kingsnake contains six subspecies. All are colorful and attractive snakes with alternating red, black and white crossbands. These crossbands are arranged in triads of color in the order of black, red, black, separated by white. The different subspecies are mainly distinguished by the number of triads, and thus, the width of the color bands vary geographically. There can be from 23 to 56 triads along the length of the body. The head and snout are black, followed by the first white band on the head. Adults have smooth, shiny scales and can reach lengths of 48 inches (120 cm).
Kingsnakes are arguably one of the most handsome of all serpents. These snakes get very big with some individuals reaching five feet in length. Kingsnakes are nonvenomous constrictors feeding on rodents, birds, lizards and even turtle eggs.
SCIENTIFIC NAME: Lampropeltis calligaster calligaster (Harlan)
OTHER NAMES: Yellow-bellied Kingsnake.
DESCRIPTION: Can attain a length more than 140 centimeters (approx. 4.5 feet), although specimens seldom exceed one meter (three feet). Head scarcely larger than neck and somewhat depressed. General ground color varies from tan to brownish gray. A row of approximately 60 brown or rusty black-edged blotches runs down the back, alternating with rows of smaller blotches on the sides, which sometimes fuse together (Johnson 1987)
SCIENTIFIC NAME: Lampropeltis getula holbrooki (Stejneger)
OTHER NAMES: Guinea Snake, Say’s Kingsnake.
DESCRIPTION: A large (up to 167.5 cm [approx. 5.5 ft.] total length) snake, dark brown to black with a white, yellow, or cream-colored spot in the center of nearly all dorsal scales. For most of the body, spots give snake a salt-and-pepper appearance. However, the light spots periodically align across the back of most individuals from Alabama to create thin cross bands at regular intervals down the back.
Now, I knew it was unlikely to be a milksnake, as the only milksnake found in Arizona is the Utah milksnake (Lampropeltis triangulum taylori), which has a very limited range in north central Arizona. That left only two other options, the western coral snake (Micruroides euryxanthus) or the Sonoran Mountain Kingsnake (Lampropeltis pyromelana pyromelana).
Eastern Kingsnakes (Lampropeltis getula getula) are one of the most interesting and impressive Colubrids roaming North America. Eastern's come in many beautiful colors and patterns. Ranging from thin single scale crossbars to 3-4 scale wide crossbars right down to the bizarre pattern anomalies found on Edisto Island, S.C. Each state within the Eastern Kingsnake's range is listed in the menu to the left and is a link to a page containing locality photographs.
Several tricolor species of kingsnake (genus Lampropeltis) can be found exclusively in the montane environments of western North America. They include the Mexican kingsnakes (Lampropeltis mexicana), the Sonoran mountain kingsnakes (Lampropeltis pyromelana), the Queretaro mountain kingsnake (Lampropletis ruthveni) and the California mountain or coral kingsnakes (Lampropeltis zonata).
This site was begun in December 1994 as a collaboration of hobbyist and professional herpetologists sharing their writings, images, and experiences regarding this fascinating snake. Inside you will find literally hundreds of images, maps, and documents, covering the natural history of this serpent.
We have many other species documented in
similar fashion which are listed on our home page, in the 8. Links - Species Specificsection.